The 48 Laws of Power was written by an American author named Robert Greene. This book is a bestseller with over a million copies sold in the United States and is a popular book among the celebrities and prison inmates. The book has also been studied as a first-year text in some US colleges.
- Law #1 – Never Outshine the Master
- Law #2 – Never Put Too Much Trust in Friends, Learn How to Use Enemies
- Law #3 – Conceal Your Intentions
- Law #4 – Always Say Less than Necessary
- Law #5 – So Much Depends on Reputation – Guard It With Your Life
- Law #6 – Court Attention at all Cost
- Law #7 – Get Others to Do the Work for You, But Always Take the Credit
- Law #8 – Make Other People Come to You – Use Bait if Necessary
- Law #9 – Win through Your Actions, Never through Argument
- Law #10 – Infection: Avoid the Unhappy and Unlucky
- Law #11 – Learn to Keep People Dependent on You
- Law #12 – Use Selective Honesty and Generosity to Disarm your Victim
- Law #13 – When Asking for Help, Appeal to People’s Self-Interest, Never to Their Mercy or Gratitude
- Law #14 – Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy
- Law #15 – Crush your Enemy Totally
- Law #16 – Use Absence to Increase Respect and Honor
- Law #17 – Keep Others in Suspended Terror: Cultivate an Air of Unpredictability
- Law #18 – Do Not Build Fortresses to Protect Yourself – Isolation is Dangerous
- Law #19 – Know Who You’re Dealing with – Do Not Offend the Wrong Person
- Law #20 – Do Not Commit to Anyone
- Law #21 – Play a Sucker to Catch a Sucker – Seem Dumber than your Mark
- Law #22 – Use the Surrender Tactic: Transform Weakness into Power
- Law #23 – Concentrate Your Forces
- Law #24 – Play the Perfect Courtier
- Law #25 – Re-Create Yourself
- Law #26 – Keep Your Hands Clean
- Law #27 – Play on People’s Need to Believe to Create a Cult-like Following
- Law #28 – Enter Action with Boldness
- Law #29 – Plan All the Way to the End
- Law #30 – Make your Accomplishments Seem Effortless
- Law #31 – Control the Options: Get Others to Play with the Cards You Deal
- Law #32 – Play to People’s Fantasies
- Law #33 – Discover Each Man’s Thumbscrew
- Law #34 – Be Royal in Your Own Fashion: Act like a King to be Treated Like One
- Law #35 – Master the Art of Timing
- Law #36 – Disdain Things You Cannot Have: Ignoring them is the Best Revenge
- Law #37 – Create Compelling Spectacles
- Law #38 – Think as You Like But Behave Like Others
- Law #39 – Stir up Waters to Catch Fish
- Law #40 – Despise the Free Lunch
- Law #41 – Avoid Stepping into a Great Man’s Shoes
- Law #42 – Strike the Shepherd and the Sheep will Scatter
- Law #43 – Work on the Hearts and Minds of Others
- Law #44 – Disarm and Infuriate with the Mirror Effect
- Law #45 – Preach the Need for Change, But Never Reform Too Much at Once
- Law #46 – Never Appear Too Perfect
- Law #47 – Do Not Go Past the Mark You Aimed For; In Victory, Learn When to Stop
- Law #48 – Assume Formlessness
So here are the 48 Laws of Power for you.
Law #1 – Never Outshine the Master
You must make those who are above you, your superior, your manager, your leader, or your boss feel superior. Do not show that you are much better than your master and try to make them feel that they are more talented and able to perform better than you. If you desire for more power, you must learn to make your superior appear to be more brilliant than you are.
Law #2 – Never Put Too Much Trust in Friends, Learn How to Use Enemies
The author says that you must be wary of your friends. You will never know when your friend will betray you because friends are the closest to you and they can easily feel envy for your results. Friends can also become spoiled and tyrannical. A former enemy appears to be more loyal than a friend because he has more to prove, so hire your former enemies. And if you do not have any enemy, make some.
Law #3 – Conceal Your Intentions
This is just like playing the card game, never reveal your purpose behind your actions and keep people off-balance and in the dark. When people have no idea what you are up to, they cannot prepare a defense strategy against you. Let people guess your intentions, guide them far into the wrong path, and when they realize your true intentions, it will be too late for them to do anything.
Law #4 – Always Say Less than Necessary
If you want to impress people, speak less. The more you say and talk, the more it appears that you are common and have less in control. The powerful ones are those that never reveal too much from their conversations. If you need to speak, make it vague and open-ended as this will make the idea original. The more you open your mouth, the more you are revealing how much you know.
Law #5 – So Much Depends on Reputation – Guard It With Your Life
Reputation is the key to power. Reputation alone can make you win and allows you to intimidate others. However, once you slipped, you will become vulnerable and open for the public to attack. So guard your reputation with everything you have. At the same time, learn to destroy your enemies by creating holes in their own reputations, and the public will hang them.
Law #6 – Court Attention at all Cost
Attention is extremely important to greater power. And everything is judged by its appearance, so never let yourself lost in the crown or get buried in oblivion. You must stand out from the crowd at all cost. Make yourself the center of attention by being more mysterious, more colorful, or appearing to be larger than anyone else.
Law #7 – Get Others to Do the Work for You, But Always Take the Credit
There is no way you can accomplish big things without the work of others. So use your wisdom and knowledge to get other people to work on your vision. This will not only save you valuable time and energy, it will also make you godlike and become super efficient. At the end of the day, others will get your work done, but you are the one that will be remembered. Try to never do yourself what others can do for you.
Law #8 – Make Other People Come to You – Use Bait if Necessary
Learn to intimidate and force other people to act, and you will be the one who is in control. It is always better to lure your enemy to come to you than you go to them. When people abandon their plans and come to you, you hold the cards.
Law #9 – Win through Your Actions, Never through Argument
It is always better to win through actions and not arguments. When you win through arguments, you will only create resentment and this ill will is going to do you more harm. So to demonstrate and get others to agree with you through your actions, and say nothing.
Law #10 – Infection: Avoid the Unhappy and Unlucky
You must not associate yourself with misery and unfortunate people. This is because emotional states are as infectious as disease. You can put yourself into disaster when you are trying to help the man drowning in misery. Stay away from the unhappy and the unlucky. Get ahead with the fortunate and happy people instead.
Law #11 – Learn to Keep People Dependent on You
When it comes to being in power, you must make others rely on you. You must make others think and feel that you are always needed and wanted. When people depend on you for their happiness and prosperity, you will have nothing to fear. Thus, never teach them enough so that they will still need you to help or to do something.
Law #12 – Use Selective Honesty and Generosity to Disarm your Victim
According to the book, one sincere and honest move will cover over dozens of dishonest acts. Your kind gesture of honesty and generosity will lower the guard of the people, even the most suspicious one. So use selective honesty to create holes in their armor so you can deceive and manipulate them. A timely gift can be a good idea to start.
Law #13 – When Asking for Help, Appeal to People’s Self-Interest, Never to Their Mercy or Gratitude
There is no need to bring up the past assistance that you have provided when you ask someone else for help. Instead, show them something that will benefit them in your request. People will respond passionately when they see that there is something to gain for themselves.
Law #14 – Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy
Understanding and knowing your rival’s plan is important. Use spies to collect valuable information that will keep you one step ahead. If possible, be the spy yourself and learn to probe. Ask indirect questions to understand your opponent’s weaknesses and plans. When you know your enemies direction, you will always be able to stay ahead of them.
Law #15 – Crush your Enemy Totally
History has shown that enemies must be crushed completely. When you allow your enemy to survive, even if it is left with only one member, a small spark can cause a great fire. Understand that your enemy will recover and seek revenge. So crush your opponents completely, both physically and mentally.
Law #16 – Use Absence to Increase Respect and Honor
Scarcity can shoot the value sky high and too much circulation will make the price goes down. When you are often seen and heard from, the more common you will become. Learn to take a temporary withdrawal, this will make people talk more about you and admire your work. You must understand when to strike and when to leave.
Law #17 – Keep Others in Suspended Terror: Cultivate an Air of Unpredictability
You must learn to be unpredictable. Humans are creatures of habits and will often seek familiarity with other people’s actions. When you are predictable, you give them the sense of control. Hence, be unpredictable and make them lose their balance. Taken to an extreme, this strategy can intimidate and terrorize.
Law #18 – Do Not Build Fortresses to Protect Yourself – Isolation is Dangerous
Sometimes it may seem safest to create a shield and protect yourself from your fortress, but this is not always true. The world is dangerous and enemies are everywhere. When you build a fortress to protect yourself, you also shun yourself for valuable information, which makes you an easy target. The better way is to circulate among other people and to find allies. Use the people in the crowd to protect yourself from enemies.
Law #19 – Know Who You’re Dealing with – Do Not Offend the Wrong Person
You have to understand the person you are dealing with before you make your move. When you deceive or offend the wrong people, they will spend the rest of their lives seeking revenge. These people are the wolves in lambs’ clothing, so make sure you know who you are dealing with.
Law #20 – Do Not Commit to Anyone
The world will always want your decision on which sides you are on, but never commit to any side. It is a foolish act to always rush and take sides. Choose no one but yourself. When you stay independence, you will become the master of others and you have the control to play people against one another. So choose no side and let people pursue you.
Law #21 – Play a Sucker to Catch a Sucker – Seem Dumber than your Mark
You must make the victim feels like they are smarter and better than you. Nobody likes to feel like a fool, so make them feel smart. Once people think that they are smarter than you, they will never suspect your intentions.
Law #22 – Use the Surrender Tactic: Transform Weakness into Power
You must learn to make good use of surrendering as a tool of power. When you are weak, never fight for honor’s sake, instead, and choose to surrender. When you surrender, it gives you time to recover, irritate your conqueror, and time to wait for his power to wane and the right moment to strike back.
Law #23 – Concentrate Your Forces
You must learn to conserve your energies and forces by focusing at the strongest point. The author said that intensity is more powerful than extensity, and you will gain more from finding a rich mine and mining it deeper, than by moving from one shallow mine to another. You must find the fat cow that will give you the most milk for the long run than to keep on searching for other cows.
Law #24 – Play the Perfect Courtier
Learn to apply the laws of courtiership and become the person in power who can assert power over others in the most graceful and oblique manner. The perfect courtier thrives in a world where everything revolves around power and political dexterity. When you mastered the law of courtiership, there will be no limit how far you can rise in the court.
Law #25 – Re-Create Yourself
Constantly recreate yourself through forging a new identity that commands the attention of the audience. And never let the society and the people accept the roles they foist on you. Learn to be your own master of identity and do not let people define it for you. When your character seems larger than life, your power will rise.
Law #26 – Keep Your Hands Clean
Portrait yourself as the paragon of civility and efficiency. Try to maintain a spotless appearance by using others as scapegoats and cat’s paws to disguise your involvement. Learn to make good use of others and get them to do the nasty work for you.
Law #27 – Play on People’s Need to Believe to Create a Cult-like Following
Human beings have an overwhelming desire to believe in something. And you must become the focal point of such desire to make people believe in you. Use vague words with full of promises and remember to emphasize on enthusiasm than rationality. Request your follower to sacrifice on your behalf.
Law #28 – Enter Action with Boldness
Make sure your doubts and hesitation never affect your execution. If you are unsure of an action, do not attempt it. It is always better to take bold action than to do something with timidity. When there are mistakes, your bold move will lead you to the solutions. People love and admire the bold, but no one honors the timid.
Law #29 – Plan All the Way to the End
You must think far ahead to be visionary and powerful. Plan all the way to the end and take into account of all the possibilities, obstacles, problems, and consequences. By planning to the end, you will not be overwhelmed by the circumstances and you will know when to act and when to stop.
Law #30 – Make your Accomplishments Seem Effortless
When it comes to your accomplishments, make them seem natural and effortless. All the hard work, the practice, the effort, and the clever tricks must be concealed from others. People will look up to you when you are able to great things with ease. Never reveal your hard work and do not teach your tricks or they will be used against you.
Law #31 – Control the Options: Get Others to Play with the Cards You Deal
One of the best deceptions is the one that seems to give people a choice, but in fact, you are the one in control. Give people options to choose so that they will think they are in control, but in reality, all the options favor you. Force people to choose between the lesser of two evils and you will be the real master.
Law #32 – Play to People’s Fantasies
There is great power in tapping into the fantasies of other people. Never reveal and play with the truth because it is often unpleasant and ugly. If you appeal to the truth, be ready for the anger that comes from disenchantment. Life is tough and harsh, and those who can play to the people’s fantasies will get the most liking.
Law #33 – Discover Each Man’s Thumbscrew
Always learn to seek the weakness, insecurity, an uncontrollable emotion or need from the people. When you know the small little secret of the people, you can use it to your advantage like a thumbscrew.
Law #34 – Be Royal in Your Own Fashion: Act like a King to be Treated Like One
How you carry yourself will determine how other people will treat you. Therefore, you must act confident and resemble the character of a king. Make yourself seem to destine to be a king and wear a crown everywhere you go.
Law #35 – Master the Art of Timing
Someone who is always in a hurry will show the lack of control over themselves. So learn to be patient as if you know that everything will turn out exactly as you desire. You must master the art of timing. Stand back when the time is yet to come and strike as hard as you can when the time is right.
Law #36 – Disdain Things You Cannot Have: Ignoring them is the Best Revenge
When you face a problem, try not to acknowledge it because when you acknowledge it you are giving it power and credibility. The more attention you put on someone, the more powerful he can be. Sometimes, it is best to ignore and leave things alone. When there is something that you desire, but cannot have, show your contempt for it. The less you reveal your interest in something, the more superior you will seem to be.
Law #37 – Create Compelling Spectacles
A striking image and symbolic gesture are often associated with the aura of power. Learn to play with images and create a trademark to set yourself from the rest. Find an image or symbol to represent you. People will be dazzled by your appearance.
Law #38 – Think as You Like But Behave Like Others
When you are being unconventional and full of unorthodox ideas, people will think that you are all about creating attention and look down on them. They will find a way to punish you for making them feel inferior. It is a wise move to blend into the crowd and nurture the common touch. You can think whatever you want, but behave and act like others. Only show your originality with people who will appreciate your uniqueness.
Law #39 – Stir up Waters to Catch Fish
You must always stay calm and objective because your anger and emotion will make you counterproductive. Use this technique against your enemies. If you can make your enemies angry while staying calm yourself, you gain an advantage by throwing your enemies off balance.
Law #40 – Despise the Free Lunch
Do understand that whatever is offered for free is dangerous. Free things usually associate with a trick or hidden obligation. What has worth is worth paying for. There are no cutting corners with excellence, so be lavish with your money because generosity is a sign of magnet and power.
Law #41 – Avoid Stepping into a Great Man’s Shoes
What appears first will always portrait a better and more original image. If you have a successful parent, you will have to accomplish more than what they have achieved to outshine them. Never lost yourself in their shadow, instead, choose to establish your own name and create your own identity by changing the course.
Law #42 – Strike the Shepherd and the Sheep will Scatter
Learn to identify the source of the trouble and the sheep will scatter. Troubles and problems often come from a single source or an individual. You must first handle and neutralize them before other people are influenced by them.
Law #43 – Work on the Hearts and Minds of Others
Coercion will never work in the long run, you must learn how to seduce people to move in your direction by softening up the resistant and working on their emotions. You must play on what they hold dear and what they fear.
Law #44 – Disarm and Infuriate with the Mirror Effect
The Mirror Effect is a powerful strategy for deception. When you mirror and do exactly as your enemies, they cannot figure out your intentions. By holding up a mirror to their psyches, you seduce them with the illusion and make them think that you share their values.
Law #45 – Preach the Need for Change, But Never Reform Too Much at Once
It is common sense that change is necessary, but people are creatures of habits. When you try to change things too drastically, it will be traumatic and create resentment. So respect the old way of doing things, and when change is necessary, make it feel like a gentle improvement on the past.
Law #46 – Never Appear Too Perfect
It is dangerous to always appear that you are too perfect without weaknesses or faults. You will create envy among the people. Thus, it is smart to occasionally show some faults and admit harmless vices.
Law #47 – Do Not Go Past the Mark You Aimed For; In Victory, Learn When to Stop
Often, the moment of victory is also the moment of greatest peril. You must learn when to stop when you have reached your goals. When you go overboard and push yourself too far, you will create more enemies than you defeat. Do not let success and victory to on to your head and cloud your thinking.
Law #48 – Assume Formlessness
The best way to move forward and to protect yourself is to become formless like water. When you take a shape or have a visible plan, you open yourself to attack. So learn to be flexible and adaptable. Everything changes, thus, accept the fact that nothing is certain and no law is fixed.